Louis Michel Aury
French Sailor & Pirate
Louis Michel Aury, pirate, was born in Paris about 1788.
He served in the French navy and on French privateers from 1802 or 1803
until 1810, when accumulation of prize money enabled him to become master of
his own vessels. He sailed from a North Carolina port with a Venezuelan
commission in April 1813 and reached Cartagena in May. In August 1813 he was
given command over the Granadine Republic's privateer schooners, a service
that ended in January 1816, when he reached Aux Cayes, Haiti, after
successfully running the Spanish blockade of Cartagena.
At Aux Cayes Aury quarreled with Simón Bolívar and transferred his services
to a group of New Orleans associates who were planning a Mexican rebel port
on the Texas coast, an invasion of the Provincias Internas,qv and attacks on
Mexican Royalist ports, all part of the Mexican revolt against Spain. Aury
left Aux Cayes on June 4 and captured several vessels en route to the
Belize, where he arrived on July 17. Then he went on to Galveston. Most of
the prize vessels and cargo were lost or damaged in efforts to sail into the
harbor. Haitian sailors mutinied on the night of September 7, wounded Aury,
and sailed to Haiti with considerable booty. Aid from New Orleans arrived
within two or three days. José Manuel de Herrera, Mexican rebel envoy,
proclaimed Galveston a port of the Mexican republic, made Aury resident
commissioner, and raised the rebel flag on September 13, 1816.
Aury's privateers cruised the Gulf looking for prizes. Of the many that came
to Galveston, one carried a cargo of specie and indigo worth about $778,000.
Cargoes condemned at Galveston went through New Orleans customs in unlabeled
bales or were smuggled into Louisiana.
Aury's settlement of shacks on the Galveston sand was far from peaceful.
Henry Perry,qv who commanded troops sent by the New Orleans associates for
the invasion of Texas, refused obedience to Aury. Another disturbing
incident was the arrival, on November 22, 1816, of Francisco Xavier Minaqv
with his filibustering expedition. Aury, disconcerted by Mina's appearance,
at first refused to cooperate, but Perry and others forced him to change his
Then Mina quarreled with his New Orleans associates, who
severed connections with him and with Aury; the latter's services were no
longer needed after the plans to invade New Spain were dropped. Aury then
decided to convoy the Mina expedition to the Santander River. The fleet left
Galveston on April 7, 1817, providing Jean Laffiteqv with an opportunity to
undermine the skeleton "government" left on the island. Aury returned from
his trip and tried to establish himself at Matagorda Bay. After failing in
this effort he went back to Galveston, where he remained until July 21.
In preceding weeks, the Laffite brothers, Jean and Pierre,
had gained a strong hold on the nondescript inhabitants of Galveston. Aury
resigned his commission to rule Galveston Island on July 31, 1817. He then
sailed to the Florida coast, where he joined Gregor McGregor, authorized
agent of the rebel colonies of Venezuela, New Grenada (Colombia), Mexico,
and La Plata (Argentina), in attacking Spanish Florida from Amelia Island.
After numerous disappointments, he captured Old Providence Island on July 4,
1818. From that headquarters he participated in several unsuccessful
attempts to aid the republican cause. He probably died at Old Providence on
August 30, 1821, though some sources state that he was living in Havana in
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